Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

Paper Trail

16 hours ago
Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

Zines are like small magazines, except that they're drawn, written, photocopied, bound and distributed entirely by hand. These scrappy missives were crucial to the 1970s punk scene, and they enthralled pre-Internet youngsters with the allure of getting their ideas out into the world. Hear the KC counterculture history zines tell, as well as their significance today.

Guests:

Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

A Johnson County journalism professor is obsessed with cacti. And a Los Angeles-based artist is obsessed with the journalism professor's obsession with cacti. How did this happen?

Guests:

  • Amir H. Fallah, artist, The Caretaker exhibit at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Mark Raduziner, professor of journalism, Johnson County Community College
C.J. Janovy / KCUR

First Friday in Kansas City's Crossroads neighborhood is always a street party. But on the first Friday in August, the third annual Southwest x Central Street Fest spotlights artists who don't typically get as much exposure as others: the musicians, writers and artists of Imagine That!, a non-profit studio of artists with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Courtesy of Gary Staab

Gary Staab might appear to be an ordinary guy.

He lives in small-town, rural Kearney, Missouri, with his wife, Lissi, and their two teenage sons, Max and Owen. He plays guitar for the Mechanical Prairie Dogs, and is learning to play cello in his spare time.

But for a living, Staab sculpts prehistoric monsters and ancient human ancestors. He constructs wooden skeleton bases, shapes and welds bodies with wire, crafts muscles and eyeballs and molds resin flesh with epoxy.

America has a long history with Peter, Paul and Mary, the folk group that endured for 49 years, won five Grammys and kicked out 13 top-40 hits.  Noel Paul Stookey, one of the two living members talks about the trio's memorable career and of the issues he's still passionate about today.

Local Playwright In KC Fringe Fest

Jul 20, 2015

Kansas City's annual Fringe Festival provides the opportunity for artists to showcase their talents. Steve Kraske talks with Midwest Dramatists Center director Victor Wishna whose short play, "The Impressionists," is featured in this year's festival.

"It comes from a place of trying to discover some characters," says Wishna, "and sort of let them speak and see where they take the story and bring me to some kind of 'ah ha' moment." 

Celeste Lindell/Flickr -- CC

It's a well-known cycle: Artists move into neglected neighborhoods, use their creativity to transform the area, then get priced out. In a recently published article in Lumpen Magazine, two local thinkers wonder, do artists make these places? Or do they just move in? We invite one of those authors and another arts developer in town to discuss.

Courtesy of the Barbara L. Gordon Collection

What is folk art? It's a seemingly simple question, but answers may vary. And when you put folk art in a museum... is it still folksy? Stories, insights and observations.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

If music comes as much from an instrument as from a musician, the people who build and repair instruments are invisible collaborators. The poetics of piano-tuning, the heroics of a horn-doctor and the serenade of a violin-maker.

Bill Martin studied with revered lamas in India. He was also the charismatic founder of a money-making church, and ultimately, a sufferer from mental illness who died in a hospital for the homeless. Years later, his son tries to understand the man who raised him.

Guest:

With the hope of providing "a shared vision for coordinated cultural development of the region," ArtsKC released its plan in May for the future of the arts in the Kansas City area. This edition of Up to Date looks at the priorities and strategies in the proposal and finds out how new initiatives will be funded.

Guests:

The City of Kansas City, Missouri, has announced a new pilot program that will allow artists to apply for short-term micro-loans to grow their practices.

“Professional individual artists living or working in Kansas City, Missouri, who are actively pursuing work within an artistic discipline, building an artistic portfolio, and creating work with intentions to present to the public are eligible," city spokeswoman Jennifer Rusch said in an email, adding that the city would also survey artists to determine future business needs.

Cody Newill / KCUR

A new exhibit in Kansas City Crossroads district takes the city's data and turns it into visual art.

"The Art of Data" made its grand opening at ArtsKC Friday after months of planning. Dozens of First Friday patrons came to see the pieces, which are based on statistics like life expectancy by zip code and the city's homicide rate.

Cody Newill / KCUR

The 11th annual Troost Festival brought together hundreds of community members, artists and businesses Saturday for a one-day celebration of the culture of Troost Avenue.

Dozens of booths and pavilions lined the street from Linwood to 31st Street, with groups like the Harry Potter Alliance sitting next to Black Lives Matter activists.  

Melinda Robinson

On Wednesday, Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann discussed a recent photography exhibit, I, Too, Am America. The photographers are part of the Langston Hughes Club, about 20 fast-food workers who, along with an organization called Stand Up KC, have been on strike for the last two years, pushing for an hourly wage of $15 and a union. Working with photojournalist Steve Herbert, they documented the world through their own eyes.

The guests were:

Cody Newill / KCUR

For years, pinball and classic video games like Pac-Man held a special spot in American culture. But by the early 2000s, it was hard to find many arcades still open for business.

But that's changing with the rise of the arcade bar, a craze that Kansas City is just now getting in on.

At the opening night of the Up-Down, the newest arcade bar in Kansas City's Crossroads district, Brian Yates pumped token after token into a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machine.

Paul Sableman / Flickr

LaShonda Katrice Barnett remembers going out with a quarter to buy the latest issue of The Call for her grandmother. Now, Barnett has written a novel about the trailblazing founder of a fictional African-American newspaper called Jam on the Vine. If it resembles The Call, that's no coincidence. 

Guest:

  • LaShonda Katrice Barnett, author, Jam on the Vine

Kansas City’s Steve Metzler was a business leader, a nonprofit supporter, and a patron of the arts, but phrases don’t begin to describe the impact he had on the community.

On this edition of Up To Date guest host Brian Ellison shares memories with those whose lives were touched by Metzler and talks with Steve's long-time partner, Brian Williams. 

Brian Hillegas / Flickr

There's talk of a West Bottoms revitalization. But the truth is, every fifteen years or so, the industrial stockyards district experiences a new kind of renaissance. In the 80s and 90s, it was an underground arts thing. Now, it's food, festivals and antiques. Meanwhile, industry and architecture have maintained a quiet presence all along. From art to antiques, can revivals of the recent past inform the future of the district?

Guests:

Patrick Quick / KCUR

When Kansas City comedians tour nationally, it almost feels like cheating. Used to small crowds and tough audiences in KC, they’re surprised by the raucous applause and packed houses on the road.

“All around the country, Kansas City comics have a reputation of just coming in and shattering the crowd. They’re like, man, you guys are really good,” according to Mike Smith, a Kansas City-based stand-up comedian. “And we’re like, could you email our city and tell them that?”

In principle most people care about the arts, but how much? We examine government funding for the arts  -- whether we should invest, the importance of arts education and what happens if we don't fund the arts.

 

Guests:

  • Harlan Brownlee, president & CEO, ArtsKC
  • Saralyn Reece Hardy, director, Spencer Museum of Art
  • CJ Janovy, arts reporter, KCUR
  • Kyna Iman, government affairs consultant

 

Oh, to be fifteen years old. Not a care in the world, except that feature length documentary you've been working on, satirizing the governor and his fiscal policy. That's how most high school sophomores spend their free time, right? 

Guest:

Laura Spencer / KCUR

On this edition of Up To Date, we learn the latest on the proposed cultural district in Kansas City, after a three-day public planning charrette where community members offered ideas on how the district could be designed and operated. Joining us for the conversation is Julián Zugazagoitia, CEO and Director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Los Angeles based performance and visual artist Tim Youd has taken up residence in Kansas City for the next three weeks to re-type two novels set in the city.

Youd is re-typing Evan Connell's novels "Mrs. Bridge" and "Mr. Bridge," two books that depict Kansas City's upper-middle class in the 1920s and 30s. The performance is part of a larger project where Youd visits a city and reproduces a book written or set there on just two pages of paper. 

Jon Feinstein / Flickr, Creative Commons

In late October, as the leaves begin to rustle and the winds begin to moan, our thoughts turn to night frights and all things ghoulish. In partnership with the ongoing 100 Ghost Stories project at Wonder Fair in Lawrence, Central Standard presents three ghost stories by writers with local ties.

In order of increasing scariness:

Ghost Feelings, by Mick Cottin

Caroline, by Megan Kaminski

Monitored, by BJ Hollars

Samuel Goldwyn Films and Paramount Home Media Distribution

When Casey Twenter came up with the idea for the movie Rudderless, starring Billy Crudup and directed by William H. Macy, he was a Kansas City guy working at an advertising agency. This conversation shares Twenter's story and offers insight into his on-screen exploration of parenthood and loss, love and guilt.

AFP

Art Spiegelman has been called the father of the graphic novel, though it's a title he resists. And composer Phillip Johnston has been a fixture in the New York underground music scene since the 1980s. The friends and collaborators teamed up on a performance (coming to Kansas City October 19, 2014) that, according to Johnston, is like a high school class slideshow lecture on LSD. 

Guests:

Paul Andrews

Randy Regier didn't grow up making art.

"I gave no thought to art," he recalls. 

But he did use his imagination to conjure his own reality, which is an artistic process.

"I didn't have much in the way of purchased goods," he says. "I didn't live near a store, so I wasn't one of those kids who could haunt a store after school. ... There was a world of objects out there, and I lived in a world of dirt and chickens and tractors."

One of his prized toys was actually a farm combine.

E.G. Schempf, courtesy of the artist and Haw Contemporary, Kansas City, Mo.

Curators from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., set out on a road trip to find the most compelling unknown artists hidden away in studios across the country. About a thousand studio visits later, artists had been selected for The State of the Art exhibitTwo Kansas City artists made the cut. 

Guests:

kcimprovfestival.blogspot.com

Looking to get down this weekend?  Brian McTavish has suggestions from classic disco to improvisation on his Weekend To-Do List!

 

KC and the Sunshine Band
Classic ’70s hit disco entertainment with costume party
7 p.m. Saturday
Kansas City Live! Block, Kansas City Power & Light District, 13th and Walnut
Admission: Free

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